(Doctor) Moms: Piece Together Moments for Yourself

As I lay my head on my yoga mat after a series of difficult poses, I thought, “This is the most relaxing moment of my week.” My heart was beating rapidly, the sweat was pouring down into my eyes, but I felt wonderfully rested for those few breaths, with the cool floor under my face. I felt something similar above in a tour of Valley of Fire State Park with the breeze at my back on a 90 degree day in the Mojave Desert. I have learned to value moments, these fleeting reprieves from a busy, full life. Lump a few extra moments together and you’ve got ten, twenty or thirty minutes to set aside for the ever crucial “you” time.

As a mom of three school aged kids, quiet time is scarce. As a primary care doctor, doctor free time is scarce. Put them together and solitude becomes as an endangered species. Even on my days off I am taking some time to return patient portal messages, review labs and occasionally call patients (this is never a good thing. But as much as possible, patients deserve to hear bad news from me first hand in real time instead of waiting). Days “off” from patient care involve getting everyone fed, dressed, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, making lunch, cleaning up, etc, etc, etc. In the midst of all these competing tasks, I cobble time together for me wherever I can find it. My favorite summer pocket of stolen time has been the 30-60 minutes I had to myself with a cup of coffee before the kids woke up. Despite the allure of sleeping in, I purposefully did runs at 5:30 am on most of my days off just for these quiet moments of centeredness.

My youngest went to school last year. Granted it was half day preschool but this three hour time slot in combination with having a full weekday off was invigorating. It energized me on my path to fulfillment, both personally and in my career. I started baptiste yoga. I signed up for an extra 15K race in addition to my usual half marathon. I dove deep into vegetarian cooking. I went to New Orleans by myself (!) for a work conference, falling in love withthe city and meeting new professional friends.

Likewise, I delved deep as a physician writer. I started a blog, submitted a few pieces to KevinMD, a leading healthcare blog, and was invited to write a monthly piece for Doximity, a social media site for health professionals. I increased my involvement in medical education, by joining the alumni board and working with our amazing local women in medicine group, UB DoctHERS. I applied for local, statewide and national positions of leadership focusing on primary care and advancing women in medicine, my two passions. Using the academic year as my calendar, what a year it has been! In the whirlwind of doctor mom life, without these stolen moments, how could I see my future path clearly?

September is here and my youngest is entering FULL DAY preschool, opening up three additional hours of “quiet moments” for me each week. I will miss our free days at home but I eagerly await these yet unclaimed moments, and am excited to see what will come next to fill up these moments for me, as my career path comes more into focus.

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